J MacDonald Photography
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Tis the season for photography gifts: My top 10 items for 2014

Ho Ho Ho it's the end of November! And that means that the holiday sales season starts ramping up, so I am here to offer a few affordable gift ideas for you or your photography significant other. I will have gifts for all budgets, some are great stocking stuffers, and others will be sure to put even the most well equipped photographer in a state of elation.  

So what do you say? Ready to shop!?

Some of the following gift ideas will be what I call "system agnostic", meaning that the recipient does NOT have to be a mirrorless or micro 4/3 user to take advantage of them. For those I will note that in case you are buying for a photographer and are not one yourself. 


Item #1 for ANYONE: Lens cloths. Silly? Not really! I don't know how many of mine I have handed out while shooting in a group never to have seen it again. That's ok though, they are cheap enough for me to buy more. Here are a few I recommend. 

Here is a 6 pack for only $9: http://amzn.to/1wUojON 

Or a single cloth in its own storage pouch for $6.50: http://amzn.to/1wpQTJG 

Item #2 for  ANYONE: The PRO DOT shutter soft button. What is it? It is a squishy little thing you stick on your shutter release button to make pushing it a little easier. It helps reduce camera shake some by making your shutter a "hair trigger". It also just plain looks cool. And they are cheap!

$8 for a pair in either RED, BLACK, or clear!  http://amzn.to/10eV1j1

Item #3 for ANYONE: The ORIGINAL Lens Pen. What is it? It is the perfect tool for keeping the glass on your lens clean. On one end it is a very soft, non-scratching brush for dusting off, well...DUST! The other end has this cool fiber disc with a DRY carbon compound on it for "cleaning" the lens element. It is SAFE for lens coatings and is probably one of my favorite picks in this list.

1 Lens Pen for $10  http://amzn.to/1rNx1Kb

Item #4  for ANYONE: This is on the "Not real cheap" end of the list. And that is ANY bag made by Think TANK Photo. Their website makes it easy to figure out what size bag to get, and they have incredible customer service. The prices will seem high to those who are not into photography, but trust me, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! I will NEVER use a different brand bag or backpack...PERIOD. These are designed to survive a nuclear war. Well..Maybe not that, but they have survived ME and my abuse for the last 4-5 years! I will share links to the bags I own below.

Think TANK Photo Perception 15 (Taupe)  Click Here
Think TANK Photo Retrospective 30 (Pinestone)  Click Here
Think TANK Photo Retrospective 5 (Blue Slate)  Click Here
Think TANK Photo Shapeshifter Click Here 

You can't go wring with these bags! 


Item #5 for micro 4/3 users:  So if you or your significant other is using an Olympus or Panasonic camera body this is just for you!! Now this is on the extravagant list, and requires some commitment, but is it ever worth it!! The following 3 lenses are like no other lenses. They are solid metal construction, and have VERY wide apertures. They are what is considered to be hyper prime lenses and are pretty exotic to say the least. They offer a certain look that you will not get with anything else out there. They are all about $999.....But worth every penny.

Voigtlander Nokton Lenses

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/.95 $1,125  
Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/.95 $950  http://amzn.to/1z8Gtgw
Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/.95 $999 http://amzn.to/1uOPgFc

I want to share a photo I recently shot w/ the Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/.95. This was shot wide open at f/.95 in a VERY low light situation...That is what this lens was made for!

Item #6 for ANYONE : Next up is something that everyone can use at one point or another, but no one wants to spend the big money on the name brand. But there is an alternative out there that is a LOT cheaper and is actually a really good alternative!
I am talking about flashes. Name brand flashes are expensive. Many cost $300 or more APIECE! But the Yongnuo brand is cheap, high powered, and...well...CHEAP! You can pick up SEVERAL of these for less than the cost of one name brand flash. I will link below to the brand Yongnuo, then you can just look for the model compatible with your camera brand .  Cost $70-90

Shop Yongnuo here:   http://amzn.to/1FcFM85

Item #7 for micro 4/3 users: This is another lens suggestion, and again, NOT CHEAP. But this is probably the hottest lens out there for Olympus and Panasonic shooters. If you know that you or your gift recipient likes to shoot sports, portraits, wildlife, or any events such as weddings or school functions then this is THE MUST HAVE lens. It is the new Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. I own this lens and can say that it is probably the best lens I have ever owned. It is FAST, it is SHARP, it is WEATHER SEALED, and it is a delight to use! Now it isn't cheap, and it is in BIG DEMAND right now, but if you invest in this lens you will not be sorry.  The cost of this lens is currently at $1,900 but like I said, you get what you pay for. I am including a few shots made with this lens below.

Purchase the mZuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO here: http://amzn.to/1536zsw 

This image was shot in a downpour. The other photographers quit shooting but I kept on going! Testament to the weather sealing on this lens!

This image was shot in a downpour. The other photographers quit shooting but I kept on going! Testament to the weather sealing on this lens!

This was shot actually at 210mm because I had the optional 1.4 teleconverter on the 40-150mm. Even with a teleconverter on it, this lens is razor sharp!

This was shot actually at 210mm because I had the optional 1.4 teleconverter on the 40-150mm. Even with a teleconverter on it, this lens is razor sharp!

Item #8 for ANYONE:  This next item is a MUST HAVE for ANYONE. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner, or a seasoned pro, Adobe Lightroom is the defacto starting point for most photographers when it comes to image editing and cataloging. And it is on the affordable list too! Currently Lightroom is priced at $150

Purchase Lightroom here: http://amzn.to/1z93wrr 

And don't forget a good book on using Lightroom!! This book by Scott Kelby is the perfect companion gift for Lightroom! Purchase Scott's book here:  http://amzn.to/1xD1Vfi 

Item #9 for ANYONE:  What good are all these photos if you aren't backing them up in a safe way?! I hear almost monthly about someone who has "lost all their photos" thanks to a hard drive that has died. HOW TERRIBLE!!! The easiest thing for you to do is get yourself backed up!! The first way is to get a good hard drive solution in place. I suggest looking at this setup from Western Digital. It is a 4TB raid storage drive. What that means is that you get 2TB of storage, and it is automatically duplicated in the device on the other 2TB of space. Basically you have a redundant backup in place. A worry free solution. It costs about $280 but aren't all your memories worth at least that much? You can actually select it in LARGER capacities too.

Purchase here: http://amzn.to/153ahlW

And to go along with item #9 I suggest also looking at subscribing to Amazon Prime. With Amazon Prime you get a lot of cool things like free two day shipping on your orders, free streaming music and movies, and now.... FREE PHOTO STORAGE!! And guess what? IT IS UNLIMITED STORAGE! Amazon Prime costs $99 a year, but you can try it FREE for 30 days! 
It's worth your time to try it out.


Item #10 For EVERYONE!!!

Go seek inspiration. It is something you can give yourself, or something you can help someone else attain. It is hard in the cold winter months for many to be inspired, but if you can help someone find a reason to be inspired I think you will be giving the best gift anyone could ever wish for in our wonderful world of photography.

So with that I wish you all a very happy holiday season.


Jamie MacDonald2 Comments